Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the reversal of a Trump-era policy created during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Biden administration will allow some prisoners who were given home confinement during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to stay out of prison.
According to The Hill:
“Thousands of people on home confinement have reconnected with their families, have found gainful employment, and have followed the rules,” Garland said in a statement. “We will exercise our authority so that those who have made rehabilitative progress and complied with the conditions of home confinement, and who in the interests of justice should be given an opportunity to continue transitioning back to society, are not unnecessarily returned to prison.”
Garland cited a memo from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) released on Tuesday that found that the relief bill enacted in the early days of the pandemic known as the CARES Act authorizes the department to use its discretion in allowing those on home confinement to stay out of prison.
The new memo overrides the legal position that had been in effect since January, which was that the thousands of inmates on home confinement must be returned to prison once the pandemic was declared over.
The Biden administration had been facing pressure for months to reverse the position and avoid re-incarcerating people who had spent months reconnecting with their families and integrating back into their communities. Some criminal justice reform advocates had called on President Biden to use his clemency powers to avoid a mass influx of returning prisoners.
Some have questioned if the decision was made at the right time as the country has been experiencing an upward tick in crime.